Method for manipulating optical energy using poled structure

- Deacon Research

Method for optical energy transfer and energy guidance uses an electric field to control energy propagation using a class of poled structures in solid material. The poled structures, which may form gratings in thin film or bulk configurations, may be combined with waveguide structures. Electric fields are applied to the poled structures to control routing of optical energy. Techniques include frequency-selective switchable- and adjustable-tunable reflection, splitting, directional coupling, frequency-tunable switching and efficient beam combining, as well as polarized beam combining. Adjustable tunability is obtained by a poled structure which produces a spatial gradient in a variable index of refraction along an axis in the presence of a variable electric field. In one embodiment, the present invention is a method of switching a grating which consists of a poled material with an alternating domain structure of specific period. When an electric field is applied across the periodic structure, a Bragg grating is formed by the electro-optic effect, reflecting optical radiation with a certain bandwidth around a center wavelength. The grating may be used by itself, or in combination with other gratings to form integrated structures in a ferroelectric crystal. Specifically of interest is an method of using an integrated structure in which one or more optical waveguides interact with one or more periodic structures to form a wavelength selective integrated optic modulator, switch, or feedback element.

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Claims

1. A method for frequency selective beam coupling comprising:

directing a first energy beam along a first propagation axis in a solid dielectric material, said solid dielectric material having a pattern of differing domains, at least a first type of said domains being a poled structure and forming at least two elements alternating with a second type of said domains;
directing a second energy beam along a second propagation axis in said solid dielectric material, said second propagation axis being transverse of said first propagation axis and said second energy beam intersecting with said first energy beam; and
applying an electric field through said solid dielectric material at a first electrode, said first electrode confronting said solid dielectric material and bridging at least two of said elements of said first type of poled structure to cause said at least two elements to interact with said first energy beam and said second energy beam.

2. A method for converting an energy wave of a single frequency between a first propagation mode characterized by a first propagation constant and a second propagation mode characterized by a second propagation constant, comprising:

directing said energy wave along a first propagation axis through an electrically-controllable pattern of differing domains disposed with selected spaced-apart surfaces transverse of said propagation axis, said domains being associated with a third propagation constant, said third propagation constant being equal to the magnitude of the difference between the first propagation constant and the second propagation constant; and
applying an electric field to said pattern to control mode conversion.

3. The method according to claim 2, wherein said energy wave is electromagnetic and said first propagation mode and said second propagation mode are orthogonally polarized, wherein said electric field applying step comprises:

adjusting the electric field to control coupling of said wave energy between said first propagation mode and said second propagation mode.

4. The method according to claim 2, wherein said selected surfaces are disposed at a preselected angle to said first propagation axis and to a second propagation axis, said method further including:

adjusting the electric field to direct coupling of said wave energy between said first propagation axis and said second propagation axis.

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Other references

Patent History

Patent number: 5703710
Type: Grant
Filed: Sep 9, 1994
Date of Patent: Dec 30, 1997
Assignee: Deacon Research (Palo Alto, CA)
Inventors: Michael J. Brinkman (Redwood City, CA), David A.G. Deacon (Los Altos, CA), William K. Bischel (Menlo Park, CA)
Primary Examiner: David C. Nelms
Assistant Examiner: Thomas Robbins
Attorney: Townsend & Townsend & Crew LLP
Application Number: 8/304,042